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First round of Moon to Mars grants target supply chains

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The federal government has funded more than $1 million into two Australian space technology businesses, as part of its efforts to get more local companies involved in NASA’s Moon to Mars program and create new Australian jobs.

The first round of Moon to Mars Supply Chain Capability Improvement grants will support the two businesses to develop their work, and tap into national and international space supply chains.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said these grants were the first to be awarded under the government’s $150 million Moon to Mars initiative.

“Australia’s space insights are out of this world,” Minister Andrews said.

“These grants are about expanding and supporting our domestic capabilities in the space sector, while helping Australian companies be part of NASA’s grand ambition to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars,” she said.

The funding announcement showcases two Aussie companies leading the way in space infrastructure and on-board spacecraft navigation.

Minister Andrews said these grants will help boost investment in the manufacturing sector, build Australia’s reputation as a manufacturer of choice, create new skilled Australian jobs and grow our economy.

“As I always say, our Moon to Mars Initiative is not about giving money to NASA – it’s about investing in Australian space capability so that we can leverage NASA’s bold vision to create opportunity and jobs here at home,” she said.

Spiral Blue (NSW) has received a grant of $416,250 to develop Space Edge software for use aboard Earth observation satellites to enable data processing on-board the satellite.

Earth observation images are used today in many industries, including defence, agriculture, and weather, but require the raw satellite data to be analysed here on Earth. These powerful and compact computer systems can deliver a report or set of analytics straight from space to improve speed and affordability.

Advanced Navigation and Q-CTRL (NSW) have received a grant of $690,892 to develop a world-first inertial navigation system for space missions. Inertial navigation is a critical capability in deep space, lunar or planetary missions, where external navigational beacons such as GPS or even landmarks are not available.

Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said the announcement was a milestone for the $150 million Moon to Mars initiative to support the growth of the Australian civil space sector and job creation.

“The two successful projects showcase the talent and ingenuity in Australia’s space sector and increase the involvement and value add of local technology in national and international space supply chains,” Palermo said.

“Congratulations to Spiral Blue and Advanced Navigation and Q-CTRL for leading projects that will contribute to the development of national capability and help to build a high tech workforce that can make a significant contribution to the national economy, while positioning Australia as a key player in the global space community.”

The $150 million Moon to Mars initiative is part of close to $700 million being invested by the Morrison Government into the Australian civil space sector as part of the goal to triple the sector’s size to $12 billion and create up to an extra 20,000 jobs by 2030.

Space is also one of six priority areas in the government’s $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy.

The Moon to Mars Supply Chain Capability Improvement program offers grants between $250,000 and $1 million, with applications open until 30 June 2023.

Source: Minister for Industry, Science and Technology press release

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